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Heartworm Medicine

Updated on April 23, 2014

Heartworm medicine discussed within this article will be referring to the preventive medicine, rather than medicine used as a treatment. In addition, the differences between heartworm disease in the dog and in the cat will be analyzed. Preventive heartworm cat medicine and preventive heartworm dog medicine is the best bet for dealing with the dangerous heartworm.

Heartworm disease is a result of parasitic worms growing inside the chambers of your dog or cat's heart and large bloodvessels. Heartworm disease is most common in dogs, however has also been found to occasionally infect the cat. Cats are usually accidental hosts. The heartworm, is spread by the bite of a mosquito which contains infective larvae in its saliva.The larvae grow into small adult worms after they burrow into the cat's tissues.

Heartworm in Dogs

Heartworm symptoms in dogs are rare until the disease is very advanced. At that point, the symptoms most frequently observed will be congestive heart failure, dull coat, lack of energy, coughing, difficulty breathing, fainting spells or an enlarged abdomen. Waiting for symptoms to develop is not a realistic alternative to prevention.

There are several different drugs used for heartworm prevention in dogs, which are all highly effective and easy to use. You can choose between a monthly good-tasting pill, or a monthly application of medicine to the skin. In colder climates, prevention medication is unnecessary during the winter.

Heartgard Plus contains two active ingredients: Ivermectin, which interferes with the parasite's nerve transmission, causing paralysis and death of the immature heartworms (larvae). Pyrantel pamoate, which also interferes with the parasite's nerve transmission, causing paralysis and death of intestinal worms, which occur when they are exposed to the environment.

Heartgard Plus is available as soft, beef-flavored chewable tablets and includes reminder stickers to place on your calendar after each dose. It is for dogs and puppies 6 weeks of age and over and is safe to use in pregnant and nursing dogs.

Revolution is a once-a-month topical (on-the-skin) treatment which is truly a revolutionary idea in parasite protection. It is an effective heartworm preventive, killing the immature form of the heartworm (Dirofilaria immitis). It kills adult fleas (Ctenocephalides felis) and prevents flea eggs from hatching for one month. It is also used for the treatment and control of ear mites (Otodectes cynotis) and sarcoptic mange (Sarcoptes scabiei). Revolution for dogs is effective in controlling tick infestations due to the American dog tick (Dermacentor variabilis). The active ingredient is selamectin, which interferes with the parasite's nervous system. It is available in a package of individual dose tubes. Revolution is fast, simple and easy to use and because of the low-volume dosage size, the solution can be applied in one spot. It is a non-greasy, quick-drying preparation, for dogs/puppies over 6 weeks of age and is safe to use on pregnant and nursing dogs.

No medication is perfect, and none of us have perfect memories. Dogs should be periodically retested. In situations where pet owners feel confident that the medication is being given regularly, testing every two years is adequate. Although heartworms can be fatal, and treatment for the disease involves risk, the condition is nearly always curable. Treatment requires careful medical care and complete rest at home afterwards.

Heartworm in Cats

Usually there are no heartworm symptoms in cats. The noted symptoms of record resemble those of other more common problems: vomiting,wheezing,choking,fainting spells and hindquarter paralysis.

When it comes to heartworm prevention in cats, there is a higher rate of occurrence in outdoor cats. Usually, if your cat is entirely indoors, you don't get mosquitoes in the house, and heartworm protection may not be needed.

Heartguard for Cats is a once-a-month, good tasting kitty treat medication. A majority of cats enjoy it or accept it readily mixed with their food. If necessary, Heartguard can be given like a pill. More often, Revolution for cats is recommended. It controls heartworms, intestinal worms, fleas and ear mites and is also easier to use. It is a non-greasy, quick-dryingpreparation and is for cats/kittens over 8 weeks of age.

Currently there is not a satisfactory drug for heartworm treatment in cats. If there was, using it would be risky because cats do not deal well with dead heartworms. They sometimes absorb the dead worms successfully; they sometimes die from arterial obstruction or from allergic reaction to the dead worms. So, if feline heartworms could be killed,it is not clear that they should be. As it stands now, the best treatment for feline heartworm disease is to start on prevention and try to control the symptoms,if there are any.

A Heartworm Medicine For Dogs Or Cats

Interceptor will protect your dog or cat from heartworm and intestinal worms with one medication. This monthly oral pet medication can be used in dogs, puppies, cats, and kittens to kill the immature form of the heartworm (Dirofilaria immitis). They also control adult hookworms (Ancylostoma caninum and Ancylostoma tubaeforme), and remove and control adult roundworms (ascarids - Toxocara canis and Toxascaris leonina in dogs and Toxocara cati in cats), and whipworms (Trichuris vulpis) in dogs.

Interceptor contains: Milbemycin Oxime, which is thought to interfere with the parasite's nerve transmission, causing death of immature heartworms (larvae) and adult intestinal worms. It is available in tasty tablets. Reminder stickers are included to place on your calendar for each of the months following the date of the first dose. It is for dogs and puppies over 4 weeks of age weighing more than 2 pounds, and cats and kittens over 6 weeks of age weighing more than 1.5 lbs. It is safe to use in pregnant and nursing dogs.

Heartworm medicine that is used as a preventive is most effective for dealing with potential heartworm problems in your dog or cat.

Feline Heartworm


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    • Paulart profile image

      Paulart 6 years ago from 2510 Warren Avenue Cheyenne,Wyoming 82001

      Very helpful hub for all pet owners. Good advise is given regarding heart worm medicine.

    • hglick profile image

      hglick 8 years ago from Ronkonkoma, NY

      Thanks for the updates mistyhorizon

    • mistyhorizon2003 profile image

      Cindy Lawson 9 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands)

      Good advice and I hope people pay attention. We are lucky here in the UK, as we don't have Heartworm at all, as well as several other nasties such as Whipworm, but we still have Roundworm and Tapeworm, and the product I use is called "Advocate", which does fleas, ear mites, Tapeworm, Roundworm, and would also treat Whipworm, Hookworm and Heartworm if we had them in the UK.